A fortnight of client dinners, champagne, questionable Dutch canapés and cheese, lots of cheese, can mean only one thing—the Maastricht inch, that inevitable toll on the waistlines of many a Tefaf exhibitor. But where to gain it?
Nowhere quite beats Café Sjiek. Rowdy, crowded, full of dealers—get there early and wait for a table while nursing one or three fishbowl gin and tonics in this cosy spot near the university. For the full experience, get a bottle of red and a hearty plate of zoervleis (horsemeat stew) washed down with spoonfuls of brie. Martin Clist, the director of antiquities specialist Charles Ede, says Sjiek is “without doubt my favourite place to be in Maastricht… The staff are all amazing; their friendliness makes one immediately feel like a member of a very special family.”
Later, louder and the other side of the Maas from Sjiek is Café Zondag. Shiver on the street with the smokers for the best gossip. It is a favourite of Andreas Pampoulides of Lullo Pampoulides who also loves “the private dining experience at Le Salonard [a deli-restaurant known for its bread, wine and cheese].”
Another cheese shop that moonlights as a restaurant is ’t Rommedoeke. “Dutch cheese really is amazing, and this is the best shop for it in Maastricht,” says Tom Davies, the director of Daniel Katz gallery. “They also do a pretty remarkable pop-up restaurant upstairs during Tefaf.”
Maastricht, with its winding medieval cobbled streets, is a small city, claustrophobic after a fortnight of Tefaf, so dealers are often secretive about their boltholes. “There is one other place—possibly the best restaurant in Maastricht—but there is no way I’m going to share that with you as it is a guaranteed art world-free haven,” Pampoulides says. And while Davies says everyone “will tell you Café Zondag is a great bar”, he claims to know “far better and less well-known ones”—but won’t name names as he wants to keep them that way.
For something more civilised, Clist recommends the restaurant Le Virage, “a comforting place with good food and charming staff”, while the Russian art specialist James Butterwick says: “I do love Restaurant O.”
The golden ticket is a private dinner in the caves of the Michelin-starred Château Neercanne in an idyllic spot just outside the city. Ruinously expensive—remember to forget your wallet.
Stephen Ongpin, the works on paper dealer, prefers the simpler life. He says: “My single favourite restaurant in Maastricht is a cheap and cheerful but very good Chinese restaurant just opposite the train station, called Wen Chow.”
To sweat out all that wine, cheese and chow mein, Clist heads to the Thermae 2000 spa in Valkenburg. “Some of the saunas are outside, along with a cold swimming pool, so when it’s frosty or even snowy the visit is astonishingly invigorating. The only curious thing is meeting other dealers or clients stark naked. Much breathing in and averting of eyes—English prudishness.”
• Café Sjiek, Sint Pieterstraat 13
• Café Zondag, Wycker Brugstraat 42
• Le Salonard, Maastrichter Heidenstraat 2A
• Specialiteitenhuis’t Rommedoeke, Wycker Brugstraat 43
• Restaurant O, Rechtstraat 76
• Le Virage, Cortenstraat 2, 2B
• Château Neercanne, Cannerweg 800
• Wen Chow, Spoorweglaan 5
• Thermae 2000, Cauberg 25-27